BEIRUT: Preventative measures in Lebanon were increased to limit the spread of coronavirus on Wednesday, after the country recorded an increase in the number of deaths and infections.
Illegal crossings between Lebanon and Syria in Hermel were closed by the military to prevent the transmission the virus to Lebanese territory “in light of the chaos in the health situation in Syria,” a Lebanese health official told Arab News.
The Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafés, Night-Clubs, and Amusements in Lebanon announced the closure of all facilities, with only delivery services still operating. Casino du Liban has closed, whilst services at mosques and churches have been postponed and sterilization procedures put in place across the country. Arab News has learned that media organizations have asked employees to work from home where possible.
The Syndicate of Dentists in Beirut called on dentists to “limit medical work to urgent and necessary treatments only.” The Federation of Trade Unions of Independent Interests and Public Institutions said members would stop going to work from Thursday to next Sunday.
A source at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Bizri, denied Rafik Hariri International Airport was to close, but he warned: “The country will close as part of a plan to combat the spread of the virus and mitigate gatherings as much as possible. University hospitals are cooperating with us and medical and health teams are ready to deal with cases and they are taking preventive measures to protect themselves.”
Lebanon’s second coronavirus victim, Maroun Karam, 55, died on Wednesday.
According to the minister of health’s office, Karam was “not suffering from health problems and it was found that his immune system was very weak. He did not travel but the infection was transmitted to him from a students who came from abroad.”
The number of recorded patients in Lebanon is now around 70, along with hundreds of people suspected of carrying the virus in quarantine. The Ministry of Health stated that Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut had 61 confirmed cases, with 9 confirmed cases in other university hospitals.
Rafik Hariri University Hospital said it believed: “The incidence of coronavirus will increase by 30 percent every day.” The University Hospital of Our Lady of Aid said that 10 of its employees were infected with the virus as a result of direct contact with an infected patient.
It has emerged, though, that the first case of the virus confirmed in Lebanon (a woman who had recently traveled to Iran) has made a full recovery. At least 37 percent of all cases have come from people who are suspected of having caught the virus abroad.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri took to Twitter to urge people to “close the doors in the face of corona (regardless of which) country it comes from, sisterly or friendly, far or near. The safety of the Lebanese should be above any consideration.”
In a statement, the head of the Lebanese Forces party, Samir Geagea, called for a “serious health emergency and the most appropriate precautionary measures.”
The Saudi Embassy in Lebanon announced that it was “coordinating with Middle East Airlines (MEA) to operate a flight on Saturday morning to King Khalid Airport in Riyadh, and another on Sunday morning to King Abdul Aziz Airport. for Saudi citizens wishing to return to the Kingdom.”
MEA announced that after obtaining special permission from the authorities in Saudi Arabia, it would operate 3 trips to and from Jeddah, Riyadh, and Dammam, to secure the return of Lebanese and Saudi nationals to their homelands.
The Kingdom had previously suspended all flights to Lebanon in light of the outbreak.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon Wang Kejian announced during his meeting with President Michel Aoun that his country was ready “to assist Lebanon in combating this epidemic.”
He said that the situation in China “is better than before, as a result of the measures taken by the Chinese authorities to restrict this epidemic and stop its spread.”